Friday, April 8, 2011

April 8, 1861: "The wealth and power offered by secession"

On April 8, 1861 President Abraham Lincoln notified Governor Pickens of South Carolina that Fort Sumter was to be resupplied peacefully. On that same day, Richmond's Daily Dispatch continued its campaign in favor of secession by rehashing a mixture of King Cotton arguments:
The wealth and power offered by secession.

The resources of wealth and power possessed by the slaveholding States are greater than can be paralleled on the globe. As already shown, their productive industry for each inhabitant is $85 per annum, while that of the West is but $72; and of the North less than $50, exclusive of the North's products of manufactures. Helper states, from the census of 1850, the value of real and personal property of the North and West at $4,196,990,939; and that of the South at $2,826,735,970; which gives $386 per inhabitant for the North and West, and $303 per inhabitant, white and black, for the South. An immense portion of the wealth of the North, however, is but the accumulation of Southern capital; and the figures given would prove the South the wealthier section in productive resources, even if the valuations of property they are based upon were true. But they are not true; and Mr. De Bow has shown their palpable inaccuracy, and applied the proper corrections, which give the following results:

North $2,095,832,338
West 1,622,948,262
South 3,947,781,366

Which gives for the North, per inhabitant, $246; for the West, $210; and for the South, per inhabitant, white and black, $415.

But the great source of prosperity to a country are its export values; for these not only indicate a surplus production beyond the wants of a people, indicating affluence, but they furnish a basis of commerce and of finance, public and private, which bring social prosperity and political power. The exports of the United States in the fiscal year ending on the30th of Junelast, had risen to the enormous figure of $400,122,296, consisting in part of imported goods re-exported, and giving a net exportation of values produced in the Union, of about $380,000,000, deducting the specie of California from which would leave about $325,000,000 for the remaining staple exports of the country.

Now, it was the slaveholding States of the Union which furnished this whole exportation. Two-thirds of the value was made up of the exclusive products of the South, to wit: Cotton, tobacco, rice, sugar, molasses, hemp, naval stores — and the rest consisted of articles which, though many of them were produced in the North, were but equal in amount to similar articles sent thither by the South, enabling the North to send off equivalent quantities of its own production.

‘"But for the quantities of breadstuffs and provisions,"’ says Mr.Kettell,‘"which were sent North from the South to feed New England, little or no Western produce could be spared for Europe, even at high prices. In this respect, the West is situated like the English West Indies. There is prolific land enough to raise abundance for export,but no labor. the introduction and use of labor-saving machines, alone, enables the West to export at all;"’ and, whatever they do export, would all be consumed in the East, leaving none to go abroad, but for the flour and grain derived by the latter from the South. Were it necessary, just now, we could prove, by arithmetical and statistical demonstration, that the whole exportations of the Union are due to the South, and that that section furnishes the basis for the whole foreign commerce and the whole Federal revenues of the Union.

The withdrawal of the slaveholding States from the Union at once strikes down its whole system of Federal Revenue; and emphatically true is Burer's apothegm, ‘"the Revenue is the State,"’ in the case of the Federal Government. The Government at Washington exists exclusively by virtue of the tariff; and the withdrawal of the slaveholding States from the Union, by withdrawing its entire foreign commerce, annihilates its revenues and prostrates the Government. Seven of those States--those which furnish the largest values for exportation — the seven leading Cotton States--have already withdrawn from the Union. They will immediately open direct trade with Europe. They are about to enact a very low tariff; while the North has enacted an enormously high one. Two hundred millions of the three hundred and twenty-five millions of the foreign exportation of the old Union are thus withdrawn from the foreign commerce of the remaining States. The seven seceding States have thus a resource of public finance and social prosperity greater than that of the whole remaining twenty-seven States. Does Virginia desire to share the one hundred and seventy-five millions left, with the twenty-seven uncongenial States; or, adding her own export values, would she not prefer to share two hundred and fifteen or twenty millions, with seven congenial States? It is a question between long division of a small dividend, and short division of a large dividend.

But the worst feature of this subject of foreign commerce as it went on under the Union that has been dissolved, was, that, while the South furnished the whole surplus for the foreign commerce of the country, and therefore paid the whole sixty millions of Revenue levied upon it by the Federal tariff, the North reaped the entire profit of this magnificent trade. The North sold the whole of it in Europe, and elsewhere on its own account, collected the whole proceeds of it, and then paid the South back in its own wretched wares, at double prices.

The South bought these small wares, ‘"gimcracks and haberdashery,"’ in the enormous amounts described by Helper in the extract given from his book the other day; and, in order to discharge the indebtedness thus created, not only allowed the North to collect abroad the entire proceeds of her immense exportations, but also sent large additional quantities of products there, to be credited on the same indebtedness. The annual account current is thus stated by Mr. Kettell :

Sent North:

Bills of Exchange, raw materials, and other produce $462,560,394

Sent South:

Domestic goods$240,000,000
Imported goods106,000,000
Interest, brokerags,&c.63,200,000
Southern travelers53,360,394
$462,560,394

Such is the footing up of the long bill of items detailed fromHelperthe other day.--Seven of the Southern States have declared independence, have proclaimed that they will no longer remain in this commercial vassalage. Is Virginia, who is so admirably circumstanced to command the foreign trade of the South, prepared likewise to throw off the galling and degrading yoke?

What a magnificent resource of credit and power would not this $462,560,394 fo annual surplus wealth afford the South, if united in one great political confederacy of her own !--A mere ten per cent. import tariff would bring her forty-six millions of dollars of revenue; sufficient to defray all the expenses of her economical Federal Government, and leave twenty or thirty millions over, which would more than pay the fifteen million of State taxes now levied by the State Government directly upon its people; thus entirely relieving them of taxation. Was ever so noble a boon offered for a noble act, as is now offered to Virginia in favor of her uniting herself to the South?

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